DEATH DO US PART
BPD and The Marriage Crucible
By Shari Schreiber,
the most heartbreaking aspect of my practice, is hearing from hard-working
family men who are married to borderline disordered females. These
fellows have taken their wedding vows seriously, and it's never
occurred to them to have affairs or leave their marriages--despite
of how much neglect or abuse they've suffered.
must try to wrap your head around the fact that Borderlines do not
treat marriage as a new beginning--but rather, an end-game.
All their seductive behaviors, their caregiving and affection, their
understanding about you and your needs, come to a fairly
abrupt halt once you've tied the knot. That sexy
Siren you've fallen for could literally shut down the candy store,
once she's secured this relationship. By now, you're in too deep
to extract yourself--and besides, you're not the kind of guy who
breaks his word (no matter what)!
start thinking that if you try a little harder to please her, that
girl you were crazy about will return--but it seldom happens. This
doesn't mean you won't get a crumb or two along the way (if she
wants something from you), but your needs
stop mattering. The Borderline's withdrawal starts out very subtly,
but a couple of months into this wedded union, you'll find yourself
missing the bliss part. This present reality is so incongruent
with your pre-marital status, it can only be thought of as a
fluke--and you'll pass it off as such. As the years go by,
you're faced with the dreadful awareness that this 'phase' has become
permanent--but it's impossible to leave, without severe financial
repercussions. There are feelings of 'quiet desperation' you want
to escape, yet you don't know how, or where to turn for help.
a doubt, the most painful part of this type of coupling, is the
shame your partner puts on you for having any needs. When
you ask for closeness or intimacy, you're labeled as being "too
needy." When you try to have an adult conversation with your
partner about your concerns, they might deflect your attempts
by consistently making you believe you're not communicating properly
or your timing's bad--so that you're crippled at the starting
hear from men who've had an extramarital affair, usually with a
Borderline. They phone me needing help to recover from that
relationship--but it's soon revealed that their wife is
one too! She may be the less volatile Waif/Martyr
type, who's long-suffering, needful, guilting and shaming--but she's
got BPD traits just the same. It's a hard pill to swallow, but it's
don't stray from a primary relationship because there's not enough
sex (unless they
have BPD features). Men stray, to get their needs for affection
and closeness met.
of the most destructive consequences for a man having an extramarital
affair, is he is crucified by his children. Their mother makes certain
they view him as a monster of course--but they only hear one side
of that story. Long after a husband/father leaves that marriage,
his ex-wife portrays herself as the victim of his "cheating,"
but his kids never get to see who's actually lit that keg of dynamite,
nor comprehend the relational upsets that forced him to look elsewhere
wives actually sanction their husband
going outside their marriage to meet his needs; "if sex
is so important to you, go get a girlfriend!" but later
recant, saying they didn't mean it. Let me be perfectly
clear: No reasonably sane, healthy woman ever
gives her partner walking papers, or permission to leave the marriage
bed, because she knows that once that barn door's flown open, it's
nearly impossible to get a stallion back to his stall.
woman could have stopped responding to your needs for closeness,
sex and sensuality due to her supposed physical ailments
or 'female' problems. She may have dutifully provided you
some manual or oral relief, but withheld access to a fuller, more
nourishing/intimate connection. She makes you feel grateful for
all she's done for you, but when you step back and really look at
this playing field, is it actually balanced--or have you
just been brainwashed into thinking it is?
Borderline wife who's urged her man to go elsewhere for comfort,
will use the affair against him, from the moment he attaches to
someone else. She'll clobber him with this "betrayal"
for the rest of his days--even though she's pushed
him out that door and into the arms of another female! She'll play
the victim, and turn his kids and everyone else in their
world against him, by slanting her story to make it sound
as if she's totally blameless. She'll keep referencing this issue
in the midst of every minor tiff they have, and kitchen-sink
him with a barrage of failings or faults that have nothing
to do with the topic at hand, until he's overwhelmed, belittled
it's very likely your needs and feelings got pushed
aside in childhood, it's completely understandable, that you wouldn't
fight for them now. Often, a "what's the point?" attitude
kicks in, and you resign yourself to living with the anguish that's
inherent in these couplings, and feeling hopeless about it.
of Borderlines manage to tolerate a litany of abuses before they
reach out for help, or begin scouring the Internet in their efforts
to identify the reasons behind this agony they've endured for years--or
of these men grew up with controlling/demanding mothers and passive
fathers. Given that children learn from example,
this relational dynamic has unwittingly been replicated within their
own marriages, and is accepted as 'normal,' regardless
of the terrible chaos, drama and pain they've "learned to live
with." Their mother was the Matriarch--the "glue"
holding it all together. Their father gave in to her whims and wishes,
just to keep the peace.
man can keep putting out fires and slaying dragons all day at work,
and look forward to having to do battle at home! When there isn't
a soft place to land, he's never able to recharge, regroup and recover
from life's demands--which is why mortality rates are much higher
in men, than in women.
of these husbands report that many years have gone by, since they've
been able to experience any loving sensual/sexual contact with their
mate. Of course, there's a weighty threat of abandonment that hangs
over them, if they even think about going elsewhere to
get their needs met. Fear of loss keeps them trapped
in endless cycles of neglect, from which it seems there's no end
in sight. They'll painfully admit; "If I stay, I can't have
my needs for intimacy met--but if I venture out, I'll lose everything--even
few of these men think it's critical to stay for the children's
sake, but this is folly, for these kids learn to define 'marriage'
by what they have observed, and typically replicate
their parent's passionless, conflictual dynamic during adulthood,
or they may never marry at all.
child from this type of home may have the sense that he/she is all
that's keeping the parents from divorcing. This can have far reaching
ramifications for this kid, as growing up means leaving
the nest--and no longer being the reason
his folks are staying together. He may resist going away to college,
forming outside interests, learning to drive, looking for work or
romance, etc. As his failure to lauch is influenced by his sense
that 'family unity' depends on it not
happening, even his social development may be delayed.
who stay "for the kids' sake" are typically scared of
being alone with themselves. This fear/anxiety can be resolved with
specialized, core-focused care.
don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that swing.
might offer sex after marriage, but you'll have to be the
initiator, and risk being turned down, when you are! If you're close
to your forties, it stands to reason that 'getting laid' may not
be your top priority. If this were not true,
you'd still be out there trolling the bars and looking for action.
We outgrow that urgency (with any luck), and desire more restorative,
connected experiences in our sensual/sexual life. In short, we're
craving far more than a hollow escapade that feels like mutual masturbation.
worst kind of lonely, is the loneliness you can
have in a relationship! It has you feeling a deep sense of betrayal
from which it's nearly impossible to recover. When a partner is
unresponsive to your need for closeness/comfort and lacks empathy,
you can't help feeling you're incidental to them--and it's
awfully hard to rebuild emotional trust from there. We may have
experienced a lack of being valued in childhood--so this rips the
scabs off those archaic wounds, and breaks our heart and
spirit even further.
known men who got married with the ideation that their wife would
be a good mother. This may have come true, however they've
bitterly complained about not getting enough attention, affection
and sex during the course of their marriage. My sense is, they've
subconsciously chosen the missing piece from their own childhood--the
nurturing mom they'd sadly, never known. The trade-off
is, their kid gets what they never got, but
they've lost their lover.
I see enormous ambivalence in these men. On one hand, they might
derive vicarious satisfaction from observing loving interplay between
their wife and child--but feel cheated/jipped out of those crucial
supplies themselves. This mother could be
her child, which fosters an unhealthy bond that makes him/her feel
responsible for the mother's moods and well-being. In these instances,
a male child often adopts the role of surrogate husband.
borderline disordered mother may intensely focus on her children
(or yours from a prior marriage). Her devoted attention
to them could appear healthy and wholesome--but provide convenient
excuses for avoiding closeness and connection with you!
If you're patiently awaiting the day when
your children are grown, and hoping to share more sexual/emotional
intimacy when the nest is finally empty, that's a lovely fantasy.
It's actually very common for a couple's conflicts to escalate
during this time, due to fewer "distractions."
fathers learn to tough it out, but may adopt coping mechanisms
that entail working longer hours, drug/alcohol abuse, overeating
or secretly going to porn or dating sites, just to salvage their
bludgeoned egos. These men speak to me about having nothing to look
forward to and feeling dead inside, and they sometimes
wonder; "whatever happened, to that happy-go-lucky guy"
they used to be?? These are clinically depressed husbands.
What God has joined together, let no man put asunder. I do--or
vows were constructed back when people didn't live past
thirty-five years old, so 'till death do us part, had an
entirely different meaning than it does today! People raised a gaggle
of kids to be farmhands, and tend to the family's food crops or
livestock business. Couples were more dependent on each other, and
a single woman was unable to support herself. This
is no longer true in our world--but it's remarkable how many females
live totally off the fruits of their husband's labor--yet resent
being housewives, and all that entails. I can't help but wonder
what they do with themselves all day long when the kids
are grown--yet the housework is chronically neglected.
few men have told me, they didn't care if they died. Since Borderlines
are too broken/defended to own their wrongdoings (and shortcomings
that are pointed out, are projected back onto their partners), conflict
resolution can not be achieved in these marriages. Any attempts
at problem-solving just leave the spouse of a Borderline feeling
beaten-up and crazy. Inevitably, he gives up trying to reason with
her or fight back--and hands over his testicles. To me, this outcome
is the most tragic consequence of poor self-worth.
can be incredibly vindictive. They'll control their partners with
all sorts of threats, should they even consider leaving:
"You will never see your child/children again!" is a pretty
common fear tactic that Borderlines use to keep men from fleeing
these torturous unions. Another one, is "I'll take you for
every cent you have." I know of a man who committed suicide
to escape his wife's wrathful vengeance after they separated. She
him, by the way--and I guess he thought shooting himself was
the only way out of his anguish. His widow still insists it was
"an accident" while cleaning his rifle. If
you're hurting, seek immediate psychological attention!!!
of nearly every man who gets involved with a Borderline, lives an
Pleaser. When he isn't placing someone else's needs before his
own, he feels unlovable and unworthy of receiving affection, attention
or praise. He's been programmed from early boyhood, to be perfectly
polite and always concerned with how others regard him. This has
lead him to discard personal facets and feelings, that might not
win him acceptance or approval from others. He's hypervigilant
about controlling his moods, all his behaviors and how he's perceived.
His sense of Self is predicated on making sure that everybody in
the world likes him, and thinks he's beyond reproach.
to boyhood conditioning, he's willing to accommodate/accept all
sorts of deficits within his marriage. The wife might seldom cook
or clean, she could be unwilling to do household tasks or shopping--especially
when anxiety or health issues are cited as an excuse that keeps
her homebound. Her brand of helplessness and inertia could span
the length of their marriage--yet he won't rock the boat by confronting
her, for fear of reprisal or "making it a lot worse."
This is an old carryover from childhood feelings/concerns
that were punished, rather than soothed by a parent--which went
something like this; "If you
don't straighten-up, I'll give you something to really cry
truth is, it really can't get worse. If you're living with
such emotional pain/torment that you've wanted to die,
it's as bad as it can get!
who love Borderlines feel guilty for simply having needs,
due to esteem difficulties in childhood, which turned them into
fixers/rescuers, to begin with. Awareness of needs triggers
sensations of shame. Expressing needs is a foreign
concept that strikes dread, in even the mightiest of men.
continuous stress of emotional/psychological warfare affects the
human condition more than physical abuse, and some men
develop serious ailments during their time in these relationships.
Prostate problems, heart conditions, blood disorders, herpes breakouts,
migraine headaches and glaucoma are a few of the souvenirs men have
retained from these relationships--regardless of how physically
powerful they were, before they met the Borderline. One of my ex's
was married to a borderline disordered female for twelve years.
He's now suffering with a form of Parkinson's Disease--and trying
to stay alive. If you've repressed your anger in this marriage
and felt long-term resentment, cancer
may erupt in your body. Let's help
you find your voice, and keep you emotionally
sound, and physically well.
the ongoing stress of this relationship doesn't kill you, domestic
violence might. These women have little capacity for empathy or
impulse control--and one fine day, a heavy iron skillet or knife
may cause irreparable bodily harm.
we ever consider that men are battered in domestic
squabbles? Probably not--but I assure you it happens far more frequently,
than you might guess.
is the key ingredient which prevents males from coming forward and
reporting their abusers. That, and their understanding of how the
law usually works, and assuming that one fabricated comment from
the 'Missus' will land them in jail, instead of her
(regardless of evidence to the contrary)! Until we begin to
accept that women are just as culpable for violent/heinous acts
as men, horrible inequities will continue to exist in our 'justice
females still the weaker sex? Sure! Unless they're Borderlines.
you have an iPhone, iPad or iPod this app will let you hear
here, to determine if you're in an abusive relationship!
MY BPD LOVER BE RIGHT ABOUT ME??
may phone for assistance, but I
do not offer online/written therapy. Only emails under
150 words are read, due to time constraints. Please
be clear/concise, and expect a straight answer within four to six